Sunday, April 5, 2020

April Sunshine

Look at that golden foliage gleaming in the sunshine!

Greetings! Finally... some wonderfully warm, sunny days to enjoy outside. :-) It makes everything seem happier. I've been able to do a few things outside during the past week, and some days I've just been able to sit outside in the sunshine and soak it in. In these days of stressful news and economic shutdown, this makes everything seem... much better.

I realize that while sunshine makes people feel good, it results in photographs that aren't so good -- but that's what we have, so I apologize if the pictures in this post are a bit glare-y.

First, a few things I've gotten done:

BEFORE: My Rainbow Border a month ago still needed to be cut back and raked out.

AFTER: Cut back and raked out (with the massive amount of brush hauled off by wheelbarrow by my teenage son, who's really becoming useful around here...), the border is ready to soak up the sunshine. I still need to dig out some winter weeds, but clearing out the brush will hasten the emerging perennials, now that we've had some sunny days to warm the soil.

BEFORE: My East Patio garden area a month ago

AFTER: The same area after I dug out and moved several shrubs. A mock orange, a reblooming lilac (next to the two back posts in the previous photo) and a peony were no longer blooming much because the new pergola blocks too much of the sun for them. I have plans to make a tropical garden around this area, with tropical annuals and potted houseplants that I'll put here in May, so I needed to make room for the new plants. The shrubs have been moved to sunnier areas, where they'll be happier.

Greenhouse Woes:

And I have some sadly disappointing news: I finally decided that the greenhouse I got several years ago was just too utterly useless to go on as the eyesore it was. I had such high hopes for it when I ordered it and put it together back in 2017:

Here it was in all its hope-filled glory back in summer 2017.
I was so looking forward to using it the next spring.

Here it was only two months later, after a few windy days, with nearly every polycarbon panel blown out. The whole blasted thing probably would have blown away if I hadn't gotten our handyman to make a sturdy wooden base attached to our garage. And that wasn't even an unusually windy day. This happened repeatedly. I got seriously tired of looking for panels in the fields around our house. Grrr.
In the intervening two years, I tried everything to keep the panels in: extra clips (utterly useless); running packing tape around all sides; wrapping the whole thing in clear plastic and taping it in multiple places; riveting wood strips to the metal frame supports to physically hold the panels in place (which did work to some extent). But the panels themselves turned yellow in our intense sunshine, particularly on the ceiling, the sunniest exposure, and some of them broke in pieces last year. 

My husband and son finally undertook the sad work of putting it out of our misery.



I guess I didn't actually need a greenhouse, like most American gardeners don't need them -- they're quite rare here, even among serious gardeners. I was swayed into thinking I needed one by the British gardening culture, which makes extensive use of them to start seeds and grow things like tomatoes, which which England doesn't have enough sun and heat to grow outside.

But our climate makes them both utterly impractical (way too cold to heat in winter, way too hot to use in summer), and largely unnecessary (we can grow tomatoes outside here). As far as seed starting, a light fixture inside an already-heated house is far more practical and much cheaper too.

This florescent light fixture (on a timer) and heat mat in my sunroom work so much better to start seeds!

I suppose if I had masses of obscure seeds to start every year, I would need more than this, but many of the annuals I plant each year are those I just buy as starts at local greenhouses, which do a much better job of growing them on than I'd be able to. For unusual plants, I can start those myself here.

But it's still a disappointment that my greenhouse effort was such a dismal failure. Sigh....

But on a happier note, here's a few pictures of bulbs blooming in sunshine:

It sure is good to see these little guys about this time!

These hyacinths smell so good with the sunshine warming them, perfuming the whole area.
These white hyacinths in my Paradise Garden gleamed almost intolerably brightly in the sun, and were covered by bees.
These squill are always such a welcome sight.
This pussy willow (Salix) next to our LP tank is absolutely covered with bees in the sunshine -- it sounded like the inside of a hive when I walked past it this afternoon. Busy, busy....

Anyway, I hope you have been able to enjoy some sunny days in your own gardens this spring. It's more important than ever that we're able to get outside and enjoy our gardens in these stay-at-home times. I realize that I'm very lucky to be able to live out in the country amid such beautiful scenes -- and no problem social distancing here!

Hope you and your families are well, and that everything is soon back to normal, in whatever way we each need "normal" to be. Thanks for reading! -Beth


  1. I'm looking forward to seeing your plants and flowers as we move through into late spring and early summer.

    I'm going to have some super tall knock out roses, normally beneath my living room window, but this spring they are going to be well above sill height because I forgot to prune them when the weather was so cold and now they are all leafed out and setting teeny little buds. I hope they won't end up too tall to survive. I think I will nip them back where they should be after their first big flush of bloom.
    The white picket fence around your gardens and home sets off your home beautifully! I would love to have a white picket fence around my yard, but in the suburbs where I live, we aren't allowed fence in the front yard.

  2. Ah, the allure of the British gardening culture. I fall hard for it every time, it just DOES NOT work here. On of my "go to" gardening books nails the difference: "An American Cutting Garden: A Primer for Growing Cut Flowers where the Summers and hot and Winters are Cold." *Sigh* I would love to have sweet peas blooming as long as our cousins across the pond, but I guess I'll take much earlier last frost dates. They don't have to deal with Japanese beetles, though! Imagine the bliss!

  3. I'm sorry to see your greenhouse didn't live up to expectations. I know the feeling, we had a very cheap, small plastic one for a one season, and no, it didn't work either. Then Carl built me a portable hoop house which was much bigger and worked very well, but I haven't had the time to put it up now for three years. I had been starting around 2,000 annuals a year which made it worthwhile. Maybe next spring we'll have the time to start seeds again.

    I have been sitting out in the sun and am ever so grateful we live in the country, too, as there's a quiet country road to walk down for exercise and a garden to work in and enjoy. :-)

    Such beautiful spring blooms, those hyacinths are gorgeous! Though life is topsy turvy right now, Mother Nature is right on schedule. Thank you for the beautiful blooms.